BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – Beginning Monday, Dec. 7, the Bellows Falls Middle School will be welcoming back all sixth-grade students for in-person learning. The students will participate in a four-day school week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. There will be another week of remote learning after the Christmas holiday, from Jan. 4-8, with students returning to in-person learning Jan. 11.
In an advisory-only vote, it was decided that because of the Thanksgiving holiday, remote learning would be moved forward an additional week than what had originally been proposed. They will also follow the same schedule following the Christmas holiday. It was recommended by the school nursing staff to further delay in-school learning after each holiday due to the likelihood of some families traveling or having guests from out of state.
To stay in compliance with the Agency of Education’s new social distancing guidelines of three feet of space separating everyone, all students will be redistributed during the school day into “pods” to ensure the proper social distancing.
Students will take part in their pre-designated pod and, as before, the core teachers will travel to the pods to teach their classes. The students will only leave the pods to travel to unified arts, physical education classes, and movement breaks.
“Currently, traveling outside of Vermont is discouraged, but if you do need to travel out of Vermont, it should be for essential purposes only,” BFMS principal Karen Bukowski said in a recent statement that was emailed to all parents of the students. “Essential travel is considered to be grocery shopping, food pickup, medical appointments, pharmacy needs, daycare, or being a caregiver.”
Traveling outside of Vermont for the Thanksgiving holiday is not considered to be essential traveling, nor is shopping for pleasure or eating in restaurants. If nonessential travel takes place, a 14-day quarantine is required after returning, or a negative Covid test after a seven-day quarantine.
It was also announced by Superintendent Pratt that there will be no “snow days” during the winter months; and instead, students will participate in remote learning. Students will follow the already established Wednesday remote schedule. The only allowance for a “snow day” will be in the event of a large-scale power outage.
Updated, Nov. 24 at 11:30 a.m. to reflect recent updates released by BFMS to the sixth grade parents.